1. Kindred Spirits
Pippin crept away from his slumbering cousins and Sam and carefully made his way down to the stream where he spied Boromir standing the watch. Unable to sleep he thought to keep the big man company for a time and perhaps coax another entertaining tale from him. He approached the big Gondorian stealthily and was about to amuse himself by surprising him with his unexpected presence when Boromir spoke quietly without turning.
“Not sleepy yet Pippin?”
The hobbit stepped back, his mouth falling open in surprise. Boromir craned his neck to grin at the startled halfling and beckoned him. Pippin scooted closer to stand at his side as Boromir placed a finger to his lips urging him to make no sound. Bending down he placed an arm around the small shoulders and pointed. Squinting into the bushes Pippin spied a tiny sparrow perched on the edge of a low branch. He chuckled softly and smiled up at his friend. Boromir settled back onto a fallen log while continuing to watch the busy little creature seeking food and Pippin eagerly joined him. The pair enjoyed a companionable silence for a time.
At last, Boromir spoke. “Do you like birds Pippin?”
“Oh yes, I like all sorts of wee creatures! Often I have sat just like this, watching a mother bird build a nest or a field mouse burrowing into the grass to make a new home.” Pippin grinned. “Back home I have a dog, his name is Dizzy, and a cat, Lily, all my own! I call her Lily because she’s as pure white as the snow that sometimes falls on the Shire in the winter.” He frowned. “I do hope they are being taken good care of. Seeing as I’m not there to do it.”
Boromir chuckled. “I am certain they are Pippin.”
“Aye, I suppose my sisters are looking after them. My mum too.”
“Hmm, and I’ll wager you’ve often brought back any and all strays you’ve come upon in your travels, eh? And taken them home to care for. No doubt causing your parents a great deal of angst when they had to tell you that you couldn’t keep every little creature that followed you home?”
Pippin grinned widely, his green eyes sparkling with mischief. “I never would have guessed you knew me so well, Boromir! You’re quite right of course. Many is the time I’ve been told to take that wild thing back to where I found it and let it go.”
Boromir nodded. “Your heart breaking all the way.”
“Aye.” Pippin tilted his head back and studied the man’s face. “And you know exactly what it felt like, yes? Because you did the same thing.”
“Ah, I did not realize you knew me so well, young sir,” the Gondorian quirked his mouth upward in a slight smile.
“It would seem we already know one another fairly well despite having met only a short while ago.”
“Have you ever heard of kindred spirits, Pippin?”
The hobbit scrunched his face in thought for a moment. “Well, I know what kin is of course. Do you mean to say people who are close in some way?”
Boromir nodded. “People who are drawn together in some way, who have many things in common.”
“Are we kindred spirits Boromir? You and I?”
The big man smiled fondly and ruffled Pippin’s curls. “I do believe we have many things in common.”
Pippin tilted his head to the side and considered Boromir’s words. “Indeed? I was under the impression that we are quite different in more ways than we are the same. But then…” Pippin gave this notion considerable thought before speaking again, “We do seem to enjoy many of the same things. The wee birds, for instance.” Pippin gestured toward the bushes.
“People are often drawn together in friendship because of their similarities.”
“Tell me about your home, Pippin. About the Shire, and its people. And your family.”
“Well…you would really like to know more?” Pippin hesitated. “We are not nearly as grand in our appearance and our lives as folks must be in your homeland.” Pippin drew his legs up to his chin and hugged them. Rocking slightly back and forth he considered his answer. “We are just plain folk as far as I know how to explain it. We live close to the land and what grows upon it. My da farmed the land around Whitwell, that’s the place where I grew up. That is, until we had to move to the Great Smials before he became the Thain.” Pippin frowned. “That was a difficult time for me.”
“Yes, after living on a farm I found life to be quite a bit different amongst all the many relatives there. I missed the freedom, I suppose, and my former home.”
“What exactly are ‘The Great Smials’?”
“Our ancestral home. The Took’s, that is. ‘Tis located in the Green Hills of the Westfarthing of the Shire. It is the traditional home of the Thain.”
“And what is the Thain? I take it to be some sort of formal title?”
“Aye, it is.”
“Ah, similar to being a steward? Or a king?”
Pippin scratched his head. “Well, yes, very similar I suppose. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Although I don’t believe the Thain holds as much power as a king. He’s mostly in charge of overseeing any events of great importance or emergencies. Not that there’s ever a great deal of that in the Shire. At least, there never has been.”
Boromir pondered. “So, if your father is the Thain that means you will one day assume the title?”
“Yes. But truth be told Boromir, I canna quite picture myself in that role. Not now at least.”
“That is understandable, Pip. I recall when I was younger being quite unable to fathom myself becoming the Steward of Gondor one day.” He smiled at the tween. “It will take some getting accustomed to, for both of us, yes?”
A hush fell upon the pair as they considered what the future might hold. The busy little sparrow circled their heads on her return to the nest and her mate. Pippin gestured at them. “And like the wee birdie there, we are very close to our kin - our family is extremely important to us. Although, being the youngest and the only lad with three older sisters does have its challenges!”
Boromir laughed. “That is something I would not know about as I am the eldest.”
“My sister Pearl is the eldest in my family. She’s terribly bossy. Although, not as bad as my youngest sister, Pervinca. She’s always ordering me about and trying to get me into trouble!”
“Indeed? She must have her work cut out for her then.”
“Hmm, I know when my leg is getting pulled Boromir.” Pippin pretended to pout and then his face broke into a grin. “My middle sister is always on my side though. That’s Pimpernel but we call her Nell.”
“Ah, now that sounds like the way it always was between my brother and I.”
“Aye, ‘tis a great help to have someone who is always on your side.”
Boromir smiled. “That is very true Pippin.”
Pippin returned his smile and thoughtfully considered further. “Well, the Shire is a beautiful place! Green grass and softly rolling hills. There are streams to play in and to catch fish. We like to dance and sing, and many are the evenings we’ve whiled away at the Green Dragon!”
“The Green Dragon?”
“Aye, that’s a lovely little Inn where folks like to gather and talk about the day’s happenings. Also to enjoy a spot of ale and a song or two, maybe share a bit of gossip.”
“Ah. That does sound like fun.”
“Oh, ‘tis great fun! Especially when certain of the folks are about, particularly the old ones because you just know you’re going to hear a fair tale or two about the bygone days. Sam’s father, we call him the Gaffer, he’s a great storyteller for one, and there are many other folks who can spin a good yarn too. And one of the lasses who works there, well…” Pippin leaned closer and whispered, “Sam’s a wee bit taken by her although truth be told he’s yet to get up the courage to tell her so.” Pippin grinned wickedly and winked.
Boromir laughed aloud at this.
“Will you not tell me another of your stories now? I thought the tale of the tortoiseshell kitty was fairly spectacular! That is, in spite of it being a great deal of fanciful make-believe I did note some rather fine bits of humor in it. What do you say Boromir?”
The big man chuckled again. “Oh, I dare say I may indeed have another tale or two up my sleeve, young sir.” Boromir settled back and placed an arm around the tween. Pippin happily settled in and waited expectantly.
“Hmm, well you have heard me speak of my younger brother.”
“Aye, Faramir. He liked the tale of the soothsaying kitty. Just like me.”
Boromir smiled fondly down at the eager face. “Yes, ‘twas a favorite of his. I told him many stories over time, tales to sooth a sleepless night, or to simply entertain him.” Boromir’s voice became softer. “Or, often to take his mind off a very sore and bruised bottom.”
Pippin craned his neck to look up at his friend, a puzzled frown marring his usually sunny face. “Did your brother frequently have a tender backside?”
“Yes, probably many more times than he liked!” Boromir squeezed the small shoulders.
“As for myself, I’ve never liked having a sore tail end yet it seems I’ve sported one rather more frequently than I cared for also! It sounds as though your brother and I have a bit in common then,” Pippin chuckled.
“Ah, your penchant for mischief reminds me of him very much, Pippin.”
The little hobbit grinned. “And so your brother earned a tanning as often as I did as a young lad?”
Boromir sighed and Pippin watched him with some concern. “Boromir? Did I say something wrong?”
“No lad. Let’s just say that while my little brother was indeed a mischief maker much like yourself, many times he did not earn the punishments he received.”
Pippin frowned. “What do you mean?”
Boromir’s gaze took on a faraway gleam. Pippin thought he detected tears in the big man’s eyes. He was about to say something when Boromir’s arm tightened around him and he began speaking softly. “Since you have so kindly shared many of the details about your family and their lives I will tell you a story, but parts of it may make you sad. Do you still wish to hear it?”
Pippin nodded. His small frame tensed in anticipation. What would the big man say?
“I am five years older than my brother. In many ways I was more like a father to him than our own father was.”
“Almost the same age difference as between Merry and me.”
“But why did you need to be a father to him when your own da was there? Or was he?”
“Pippin, by the sound of what you have told me of your people, they are a very loving folk. Not all families are like that.”
“I know. I have seen that for myself.”
Boromir nodded. “Our father was not a loving man. He was proud, and hard. And sometimes very thoughtless in his words and deeds.” Boromir was quiet for several moments before continuing. “My mother died when I was ten years old.”
“Oh, dear! How dreadful Boromir!”
“Yes, and even harder for Faramir at the age of five.” He drew a deep breath before continuing. “My brother inherited the fairness of feature that was our mother’s. Indeed, he resembles her very much. This was something my father found very difficult. Instead of treating Faramir like the treasured child he should have been he instead regarded him with disdain, frequently reproving him for the smallest things. My brother learned to fear him. And to feel he could never earn his love.”
“Your da didn’t love him? Did he treat you the same?”
“Nay.” Boromir sighed even more heavily this time. “’Twas the opposite. Although he was a hard taskmaster toward us both he treated me as the favored child. Poor Faramir did not understand why our father did this and he often felt rebuffed, left out. Indeed, Denethor’s disapproval was such that poor Faramir would cringe at the mere command of his voice to attend him. Poor lad was always in trouble.”
Pippin watched the myriad of emotion cross his friend’s face. “And you looked out for him. The same way Merry does for me. Because you cared so much. The same as you do now.”
“You are wise beyond your years at times young Peregrin.”
“Tell me your story, Boromir. Please?”
The big man nodded gravely and began.
“Faramir! Where are you? If you don’t come out of hiding right this moment I’ll--”
A fair head of strawberry blonde popped up from behind the smooth white stone in the courtyard and bright blue eyes regarded his brother with a mischievous gleam. “Or you’ll what, Bori?” Ten-year-old Faramir laughed and sprinted down the nearby steps, headed for the next level of the great city, his older brother hot on his heels.
“Little one, if you don’t stop right now you’ll rue the moment I lay my hands upon you!” Boromir was livid. His brother had just revealed a cherished secret he’d overheard to the young lady who held his heart captive. Boromir’s face flamed with embarrassment and he could still hear the lass’s merry laughter ringing in his ears when Faramir had expressed his elder brother’s undying love for her. As Faramir fled as fast as his shorter legs could carry him Boromir gained ground. Finally he pounced.
“Ahh! Lemme go Bori! I didn’t tell your secret!”
The older boy scowled fiercely as he hauled the errant child along beside him. He parked himself on the first section of the low stonewall he reached and flung the child over his lap. Faramir squirmed and wailed his protests of innocence even as a firm swat landed on his backside. His indignant assertions of innocence fell on deaf ears as his brother proceeded to paddle him soundly.
“Ahhh, Bori, no!! Stop, please!”
A small hand flew back only to be scooped up in a larger one and held pinned to his side. A regretful youngster finally accepted his punishment and collapsed sobbing over the strong knee of his older sibling. Boromir laid down a final swat before beginning to rub the little one’s back and sooth him. Wails turned to occasional hitching cries and finally to hiccups. Boromir stood his brother on his feet at last and looked him firmly in the eye.
“Do not embarrass me like that again young man! Do you hear me? That was very naughty and you know it was.”
Faramir nodded, his head hung low while he rubbed his backside. “I’m sorry Bori.”
The older boy’s heart melted as it always did and he hugged the youth to him. He tried his best to sound stern. “See that you don’t! Or there’ll be more where that came from!” He was astonished when he heard the giggle. He used one finger to tilt Faramir’s chin upward and looked the child in the eye. Faramir’s tears were slowing and he made a face at his brother. Boromir couldn’t resist and started to laugh. This caused his little brother to giggle harder as they made their way back home, laughing together while Faramir begged for a story. Boromir guided his brother to the family’s living quarters.
“Come, you little scoundrel! It is time for bed.”
“Tell me a story,” the youngster pleaded. “Please Bori? Tell me about the mystical tortoiseshell kitty of Gondor!”
Boromir sighed and pretended to be annoyed. “Haven’t you heard that tale enough times?”
“No!” Faramir shouted gleefully and jumped up and down on his bed after Boromir sat him down.
“Oh, very well then. If you absolutely must hear it again.” He settled on the bed next to his brother and cradled the small one in his arms.
He had barely begun the tale when they both stiffened at the sound of their father’s loud and angry voice approaching. Boromir’s arm tightened instinctively around his younger brother’s shoulders. Faramir quailed with fright as the heavy door to his room flew open and Denethor stood regarding them with a cold glare. In one hand dangled a broken necklace, in the other a thick leather strap. Both boys’ eyes grew wide with fear.
“What is it Father? Is something wrong?” Boromir tried to keep his own voice calm, working against all odds to stay the inevitable outcome of this confrontation. It was immediately obvious to him what had happened and his arm tightened even more protectively around Faramir. The forbidden room had been violated. His little brother would be beaten for his intrusion.
The necklace Denethor gripped in his shaking fingers had belonged to their mother. His eyes were like hard pieces of gray flint as he stared at first one, then the other cringing youth.
Boromir knew his father had been gradually sliding into a strange madness ever since their mother had passed. He and his brother were left to bear the unhappy brunt of his rages and his odd behavior. Denethor had created a bizarre shrine to his dead wife, closing off her room to the outside world and preserving all her things just as she had left them. There, in that lonely place high in the towers of the White City he often kept vigil, as if awaiting her return.
Boromir had sometimes watched his father from his favored hiding place, morbidly fascinated with Denethor’s actions. The Steward almost always frequented the room late at night when the household was abed. During one of his own sleepless nights he had wandered to his mother’s room in hopes of finding some comfort there amongst her belongings, although knowing his father had declared entry to her room forbidden to all. That was the night he had made the heart-wrenching discovery. Barely escaping detection he’d hid behind the door and beheld his father’s agonized weeping, his angry muttering, his pitiful circuit around the room touching her things. At one point he had stopped and reverently fingered a shawl flung over the back of her chair. Boromir recalled seeing his mother rocking Faramir to sleep there as an infant and had quietly wiped the tears away remembering her tranquil face and her soft voice as she sang to his infant brother.
Boromir was shaken from his reverie by Denethor’s cold words demanding to know which of them had dared enter her room. He heard Faramir’s terrified whimper and his heart felt as though it had been gripped by a giant fist and twisted until it bled freely. He removed his arm from his brother’s shoulders and stood to face his father, moving carefully in front of Faramir as if to shield him. Although his knees were shaking and his legs threatened to lose their ability to support his weight, the young man held his father’s stony gaze with one of his own.
“I did, Father.” Boromir flinched when Denethor moved toward him, his angry voice growing louder. Behind him Faramir sobbed. He knew the cries were those born of apology as much as fear. He heard Faramir slip to his feet and whirled on him, his eyes frantically imploring him to remain silent. Faramir stared up at him with his tear-streaked face and for one brief moment time was suspended. The gift of love was conveyed from eldest to youngest without need for words. And without words it was received and shamefully accepted, a gift gratefully snatched up in sheer desperation and piteous relief, and clung to alongside the child’s silent terror.
“How dare you! You know her room is not to be entered!” Denethor shouted. He stepped away from the door, livid with rage, and pointed to the corridor.
Boromir dropped his eyes and obediently left the room and headed to his own, leaving his little brother to collapse in a heap of sobs upon the bed.
As he submitted to the harsh strapping he wished Faramir could not hear the results of his folly. Bent over the foot of the bed fingers digging into the bedclothes he tried to stay his need to cry out. For all the youth attempted to keep his silence it was to no avail. Denethor did not intend to cease the punishment until he had the satisfaction of hearing his wails of regret. And so Boromir screamed out his hurt and his anger, unhappy that his brother could hear the extent of their father’s cruel whipping and would thus feel even more emotional pain, his regret for the way they were treated by a man who was lost in his own world of rage and self pity. Boromir wept for his mother, his little brother, and for all the lost days of their lives that were never meant to be. When his father finished with him at last he lay still, sobbing, but now with the relief of knowing he had protected his young brother from the physical pain of that terrible wrath.
Later in the night he awoke to the touch of his brother’s hand on his shoulder. Faramir crawled up onto the bed and curled up next to him. Boromir reached out and pulled him close. The brothers lay together in utter silence. No words were necessary to express their love; no anger was great enough to drive them apart.
“Oh, Boromir!” Pippin’s eyes were filled with tears as he listened to the end of the story.
The big man squeezed his shoulders in understanding.
“How…how could he…I mean, why would he…”
“Shh, little one.” Boromir brushed the soft curls away from Pippin’s face and used the back of his hand to gently dry his tears. “Just as it was between my brother and I, no words are needed to express what you must be feeling.” He gazed down into the bright green eyes and smiled. “My experience was so far removed from yours. And that is a good thing.” He sighed and sat back. “There is no explanation Pippin. At least, no satisfactory one that I’ve ever been able to console myself with.”
“But…fathers are supposed to love their children, to take care of them. I don’t understand how your father could have been so mean to you! I mean, a tanning is one thing, but what you’ve just told me is just so, so…cruel and so wrong! I can’t stand that you were treated so poorly. It isn’t fair.”
“No, not fair. Not right.”
“Is your da still like that?”
Boromir smiled sadly. “Aye, he still has not learned to appreciate the extraordinary son he has in Faramir.”
“But, at least he has you to care for him! So, he has not been alone.”
“Nay, and he shall never be alone for I will always care for him and protect him from hurt. At least as much as I am able.”
“Aye, you can’t shield the ones you love from all the hurts, can you Boromir?”
“Ah, little one! You are indeed wise beyond your years. But we do the best we can, yes?”
“Yes,” Pippin whispered.
“Now, not so solemn my lad! I simply cannot tolerate that baleful look on such a normally happy face! You must smile for me.”
Pippin ventured a hesitant little smile as he tilted his head up, studying his friend thoughtfully.
“Ah, that’s much better!”
They sat in companionable silence for a time before Boromir nudged him. “I do believe you should get some rest now young one! And, ‘tis almost time for me to be relieved and I shall do the same.”
Pippin opened his mouth to reply when a disgruntled “Hmph” directly behind them startled them both. Turning, they saw Gandalf, an exaggerated frown on his face, looking them up and down.
“Yes, I should think it’s about time you got some rest, wouldn’t you agree? I will take up the watch now. Go, the both of you and get some sleep!” He shooed them away like a mother hen.
Boromir chuckled and stood, extending his hand to the halfling. Pippin accepted it and trotted after him back to their bedrolls.
“Almost like being at home, it is,” Pippin muttered. Boromir tilted his head in question.
Pippin pointed over his shoulder at the ever-observant wizard. “Gandalf sounded like my mum just then!”
The big man laughed heartily and leaned down to whisper in the hobbit’s ear. “Mine too!”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.